When he hit me

This is a difficult post for me to write.

Mostly because I didn’t want to be “one” of those parents.  You know the ones. You see them on the play equipment at the park, trying to coax a small child down from a slide because it’s time to go home.  After 20 minutes they give up on the coaxing and just grab them.  The child retaliates.  They hit their parent repeatedly.  The parent have an embarrassed smile on their face. You think they are weak.

Well, here I am. Laying myself bare to you.  Yesterday, after 2 days of sheer horrendousness, we arrived home and The Monster (2 years 4 months) hands me the iPhone I gave him mid journey and then decides that whatever I do next, he’s not happy about it. I don’t know what it is. Was it the way I put the phone in my back pocket?  Was it unrelated to the phone?  Did he drop something? Is he unhappy about being home?

He won’t get out of the car.

I eventually get him on to the ground and he won’t budge. He’s stamping his foot, screaming at me. I can’t leave him on the footpath because we are near a busy road and he’s unpredictable.  So I pick him up and carry him to the front door.

He lays into me with his fists.  One fist (thankfully) is also enclosed around his toy dog, so I get my face hit several times. Hard fist, dog, hard fist, dog, hard fist. I can’t stop him, he’s heavy and I’m holding him with both hands.  I grab the dog and throw it over the fence in anger. A couple walk past (aghast, my husband later tells me).  I rush into the door, put him on the step angrily.  Walk into the sitting room, tears stinging my eyes.

Why is my son being so aggressive?

I have a few theories. They are only theories thought.

He is caught a little in an unfortunate “naughty boy” cycle.  His sister is very very good. She hates being told off and generally behaves herself after a warning.  We introduced the naughty step to her at 18 months and she spent a fair bit of time on there as a toddler.  She has a conscious and understands repercussions and would rather be good.  The Monster does respond to the step.  Most of the time he does what he is asked if he has been on the step once. Sometimes he will do it after the 2nd sitting.  Occasionally it requires 3 sittings.  He has a wry smile about the whole thing though.  He has been known to get the warning and just head off the step anyway.  That way he has some control, I guess. I find it a bit unsettling.  I do praise his good behaviour, as much as I did with Pickle.  I feel very aware he is already labelled “naughty”.  He is “trying” “grumpy” “Trouble at mill”.  He hears us mutter this.

My second theory is his language.  He is behind his peers, but I’ve not panicked about it.  Every child is different. His understanding is exceptional. He’ll get there in the end.  Trouble is I think it’s the reason for his anger.  This time last year was when he started being “difficult”. Our holiday to the Isle of Wight was difficult. He had no words at all and an obsession with his father.  He cried a lot.  Then towards Autumn hubby and I tuned into his needs, his sister got an idea of what he needed and between us we could figure out what he wanted. He learnt a few words. “Gog” – sleepy dog. “night” – at bedtime. “Wilk” – milk. His pointing was better. We would take his hand so he could show us things and through trial and error we worked it out.  I think his brain has moved on even further now. He has more wants and he can’t tell us about it.  It’s causing all sorts of frustration.  He is lashing out. He’s spending more time on the step.  He’s throwing things at me, his dad, his sister.  Punishment doesn’t appear to be working, because his behaviour is being borne out of his lack of communication.  Why would it work?

This weekend was a plethora of anger. He was pushed over a couple of times by an older boy in softplay and his answer was to lay into him. A wrestling match with a few punches thrown in.  Part of me was pleased he could stand up for himself, but obviously the socially aware mother in me was aghast.  Then there was an incident about leaving the farm.  Nothing worked. 4 steps and he refused to go in his buggy. I had to carry him screaming out to the car park.  Once there he took my hand and we walked in silence to the car.  He was awful at his grandparents. Getting angry and every little thing. Screaming high-pitched when things didn’t go his way.

The Monster

The Monster

I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to bring his language up.  Repeating words, asking him to say a word (which he’ll mostly oblige), but I’m not sure if there is anything else I can do.  I’ve heard they get there eventually but I need to knock this anger on the head, whatever it is.  I’m concerned that if his speech isn’t  up to scratch by school I’ll be called in for incidents.  A friend of mine’s son was 3 when he started talking, he then had 3 years of stammering.  I don’t want that for The Monster.  That’s not the start in schooling I had in mind for him.

I love my little boy, but I’m struggling with liking him some of the time.

Can anyone help?  Any advice, similar stories or reassurance would be gratefully appreciated. I’m at the end of my tether.

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About freefallinginto40

I am 40 years old. I blog about how I'm coping with my "new" age at www.freefallinginto.com . I'm a married mother to two after years of infertility. I have a 6 year old called Pickle and a 3 year old called The Monster. I work 4 days a week. We are also planning a move to the country! I blog about that at www.ourmovetothecountry.wordpress.com
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26 Responses to When he hit me

  1. alex says:

    Boys are just a lot more aggressive than girls.we put it down to hormones.our 5year old lad was a terror from 2 to 4, biting, kicking and punching. Mostly punches to my balls I must say.tbh boys are a lot like puppies, they need constant exercise and walks to balance out the inherent aggression. They’re also developmentally different to girls.

    Our girl (4) is completely different to the boy. It just sounds like a bit of boy violence to be honest. Not that it makes it any easier to deal with of course but you’re definitely not alone in having a boy who behaves like this.

    • Well, this does help. I was expecting my boy to be different growing up. he definitely needs to get out the house often and is more boisterous. However, I’m not happy with the violence at all. I appreciate there are hormones involved but I can’t just let that slip by. it’s not ok to hit, let alone his mother.

  2. Mrs Smith says:

    I am in exactly the same predicament as you with my two year old and im convinced her anger is borne out of not being able to communicate effectively. I think we have just have to ride out the terrible two’s and wait for their language to pick up pace. Although you if you find a workable solution before then please let me know.

  3. Oh I’m so sorry, my 2.4yr old is very similar, not the violence (yet) but just the most goddamn awful meltdowns about I have no idea what most of the time. Full on screaming, trying to do whatever she wanted to do etc. Tbh I think you are probably right it doesn’t help that he can’t communicate properly but I think the other part of it is control, they see you do what you want, and to a certain extent the older child (because of their age) and they must feel like they have NO control over any part of their life.
    This isn’t going to help but some of the time (when there isn’t violence involved) I think you just have to let them have the screaming tantrums and let them express themselves and acknowledge they are frustrated and upset.
    When there is violence then I think discipline is needed and a telling off and the time out/naughty step. But maybe also when he is calm you could talk to him about how hitting is wrong, so it’s not a message you are trying to give when he is upset and not listening to you anyway. Try and talk about how it hurts you (and other people) and is there someway else he can express his anger (yes I know he is only 2 but I think it’s important to start this convos early)

    The most important thing to remember is fuck what other people think about how your children are acting. They are not important, you and your children are important.

    Right after all that I would like to point out I have no idea what I am talking about and am dragging my children up using a combination of good luck and benign neglect.

  4. My 3 year old is exactly the same! Sometimes I worry about what I have done that makes him act like he has a grudge against the world. He tells me he is never happy. He constantly moans, lashes out and seems to be in a constant state of grumpiness. On the same hand, at times he is the most affectionate little boy in the world.

    What you say about language really interests me though. I feel that Logan, my three year old, is also behind his peers and brother when it comes to language. It’s not that he doesnt understand, it’s that his pronunciation is not the clearest and I see him get agitated when trying to talk to people and they don’t understand him. My eldest son had to go to speech therapy as he had a stutter and it was amazing for him – I’ve got Logan’s name down but the waiting list is massive.

    My plan, is to continue plodding on. We’re doing our best, and you have to remember that. They can’t be like this forever….hopefully.

  5. I don’t know how to help – but I do know it passes. I have two boys and one went through this just around two and a half – the other is just two and beginning to show shouty signs of the same; it passes. I think you’re right about it being communication.

    I found that I just began losing my temper more and more too – and when I learned to take myself out of the situation to calm down – ie we BOTH had a time out – it helped. Then I would apologise for being angry and explain why I had lost my temper, and he would get chance to do the same.

    That still works now – when we’ve all lost our tempers and everyone shouts we take a few minutes then I apologise first, explain, and ask him to do the same. If I say sorry first it seems to help him to calm down and feel able to do it.

  6. hpmcq says:

    i just wondered if you have had his hearing tested? my neighbours son was always very angry but didn’t have much speech, so noone knew why he was angry. they had his ears tested and glue ear was the problem. once he had the grommets put in he really changed. might not be the answer but worth checking perhaps?

  7. I have a 2.5 year old boy as well. He wakes up grumpy and continues that way for most of the day. It is just battle after battle and sometimes you just can’t do anything about it. I honestly hate this and hope like everyone says that it’s a ‘phase’. I have a 5 year old girl too and the hardest is when the tantrum coincides with having to get her to school or swimming lessons etc. I just can’t cope at those moments. I lose my temper too – loads. We’re only human I suppose. I wish you all the strength from one worn out mother to another.
    It’s a bit of a plug I know, but here’s a post I just wrote about a heavy tantruming day: http://runofthewindmill.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/warts-and-all/

  8. I know of someone who was in a very similar position and all I know is that since their child has started play school there has been such a change. With his speech and his anger. We thought it was something totally different and were getting quite concerned but, like I said he does seem a lot better. Not so frustrated too.

  9. Gail Carson says:

    They call it ” the terrible two’s ” for a reason. Though it may seem difficult, you need to be patient and understanding, yet firm with your guidance. Your child will learn by how YOU act.

  10. Kay says:

    Two year olds with little language often turn their frustration to violence, over years of running a pre-school I saw it regularly. It invariably ends when the child becomes more vocal. It sounds like you are doing all the right things, continue to give him as much language as possible, when he points say things like ‘oh you want the…’, question his behaviour ‘are you unhappy because..’, if you know he knows a word make sure he uses it & don’t just give him want he wants, maybe use things like ‘do you want .. or…’. Continue to discipline and ignore any looks others give you – they don’t know your child, you know when he is open to reason or when he just needs to be picked up and made to do something.
    Most parents go through stages like this but they are usually just stages so take a deep breath & carry on!

  11. My youngest was far more flammable than her big sister. Now 9, we know that she is a very driven person, to the point of obsession sometimes, and looking back, this probably added to her frustration as a toddler – as said above I think she felt she had no control at all sometimes. She still takes things very personally, whereas her 12 year old sister is a lot more ‘whatever’.
    Next time he tantrums, make it clear that the behaviour is unacceptable, but tell him you love him and know that he feels it’s unfair and unjust, but this is how it is – whisper it in his ear while he’s screaming. Even though his language may be delayed, he almost certainly understands every word you say.

  12. Honest Mum says:

    I don’t think it’s a gender specific thing; as a child I was a lot angrier than my brother but I do think it will pass. I remember reading advice from Dr Sears, US’ expert in childrearing/tantrums and it really helped me see how frustrating it must be for these little people striving to catch up with themselves in every way. Worth googling him! Lovely to have found your blog x

    • It was lovely to find yours! That’s interesting that you were angrier than your brother, perhaps it is also related to personality. As sods law would have it, having reached the worst day ever with him on Saturday, he was slightly better on Sunday and so good on Monday with his dad he didn’t have one trip to the naughty step. Having read all the advice on here the last few days, I did a couple of signs and repeated some words and yesterday he used the word “Help”, which was one of them. HUGE change.

  13. francespringle says:

    I truly believe this is down to communication. My middle son was a late talker, later discovered he had continuous glue ear and couldn’t ear the majority of the time. We had unpredictable and bad behaviour because of it. We had fist fights and we had tantrums. It was hard.But it does pass. His language is still very behind his peers and ware going through SLT and seeing small improvements. But the more he can communicate the better things get. We shouted, we did time out, we did the naught step and when things were really bad (like him nearly killing himself running on to roads) we even smacked to scare him! We’re not proud of that. However, the only things that have worked are physically removing him from a situation and praise! But if your little boy’s understanding his better, praise may work earlier on.Hang in there, you’re doing a grand job!

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